By God’s grace, I was born at just the right time and in just the right place. There are many meaningful evidences of that statement … including my family, friends, church experience, university, etc. that were all providential gifts from my Creator. However, right now, I want to highlight a less consequential (but fun) example – BASKETBALL.
I have always loved the game of basketball, and played it every chance I got. Currently, I watch way more basketball than I play, but I really do love being around the game. I also am fairly competitive and like to win. Given these truths about me, I also see it as a gift from the Lord that I was in high school in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Bartlesville, OK. During the four years I was in High School, Bartlesville won three state championships. I watched one from the stands as a freshman, and was on the court when the clock hit zero my junior and senior years. These three titles represent the only three state championships that Bartlesville High has ever won in men’s basketball. I was a part of some amazing teams that had star players who played together, and I got to go along for the ride.
The one year Bartlesville did not win the title (while I was in High School) was my sophomore year. That team made an impressive run to the state tournament and came up (literally) a few inches away from upsetting a very good Jenks team and making it to the Final Four. But, by the standards of the surrounding years, this team did not receive the same accolades. I still remember in the off season (between my sophomore and junior years) interviewing our coach for the “Locker Room Show” for our student run sportscast, and asking him if he was disappointed that the 1990 team had not won the state title. I will never forget his response.
“Mark, who ever said I was disappointed in that team? They gave everything they had, overachieved, and got significantly better from the beginning to the end of the year. I could not be more proud of that team and all they accomplished.”
While some might be tempted to attribute that comment to coach-speak, there was a sincerity in Coach’s eyes when he said it. He meant every word. As a Coach who knew his team, he would judge each team against their own potential, regardless of what the ultimate score would be on the court.
Now, why do I go into this long story today? I share this because this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, I will be kicking off a new sermon series entitled “Mission:Fund.” In this series, we will be returning to 2 Corinthians (now looking at chapters 8-9) to hear Jesus’ invitation for each of us to join Him on mission in the way we handle and invest the financial resources He has allowed us to be stewards over. As I prepare for part 1 of this series, focusing on 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, I remembered Coach’s words about the 1990 Bruins …
You see, when it comes to giving, most people’s scoreboards examine only the number of 0’s after the comma. In this frame of thinking, the smaller the gift, the less significant/generous the donor. This may be true in large scale fundraising for the PTA or political office, BUT NOT FOR THE CHURCH! Jesus Christ desires that we give, but each one’s generosity is measured against their own potential/capacity, not the size of the check. This is why the widow who gave a few pennies in the Gospel’s is celebrated, while the Pharisee who tithed on his spices is panned. Jesus is not disappointed in the size of our gift, He simply wants our gift to be commiserate with His blessing. To whom much is given, much is expected.
As American Christians, we have been GIVEN MUCH. God’s grace to us is overflowing. We have won the lottery. Sure, some have more than others, but in comparison to so many in the world, we all have been given much. How are we investing/stewarding what He has given? Are we living into our potential? Will we hear our Celestial Coach one day say He is proud of our utilization of resources?
Join us this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services as we kick off this study to see what generosity looks like by examining the example of the “Macedonians” in 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. See you then … and bring friends!
P.S. We also have a very exciting Missions opportunity that ALL OF US can be a part of. Join us Sunday to hear more about it.